Moving people from the Awareness Stage of your product or service to being a Satisfied Customer is easily accomplished by utilizing a Content Marketing Funnel.
According to Forrester, on average, a person consumes 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase decision. You should have content that is likely an answer to the question, “Should I purchase A or B?"
Think about your own past purchasing process. Did you compare prices and options of two or more items that you were interested in purchasing?
Most buyers investigate many factors before making a final decision on which option to purchase.
We perform online searches, look for reviews, ask friends and family, and possibly read through blogs looking for the information to aid us in our decision.
We, as marketers, know this. In a 2018 study, Hubspot found that “61% of marketers stress that generating more traffic and leads is their top priority."
Not all website visitors visit our content to buy something – many come to educate themselves on a particular topic.
Having the content that they are looking for in a well built Content Marketing Funnel is extremely important to your business.
Content Marketing Funnels are a clear winner when calculating ROI.
In this article, we will cover the process of assembling a Successful Content Marketing Funnel in order to grow your business.
Here’s what we’ll tackle:
- What is a Content Marketing Funnel?
- Why should you create a Content Marketing Funnel?
- Audience-oriented funnel creation.
- Creating successful content.
- What to do once a customer has completed your funnel.
So let’s get started!
What is a Content Marketing Funnel?
A Content Marketing Funnel is a system that introduces new leads to your business through different types of content. These leads are then converted into possible customers by progressively “funneling” them through more types of content.
A Content Marketing Funnel can have many different parts but, generally, there are only three points that you need to remember:
- The top of the funnel (ToFu) should grab attention to your brand and focus on site traffic.
- The middle of the funnel (MoFu) is where your lead generation comes from. There should be nurturing and educational content here.
- The bottom of the funnel (BoFu) should be conversion-focused. This is where you offer paid products and services.
Top of the Funnel (ToFu)
What is the Top of the Funnel?
The Top of the Funnel is where you 1st start to get your audience’s attention. This is where first impressions make the most impact. You need to have free content that adds value to the customer’s journey.
This is where you bring your Brand into the customers purchasing decisions.
Make sure that your content is sent out to Social Media networks and other marketing channels to get your audience’s attention!
Middle of the Funnel (MoFu)
What is the Middle of the Funnel?
This is where your site visitors are converted into sales leads. Once people are aware of your brand and have received free, relevant content from you, now is the time to transition them to qualified leads.
This is done by presenting an attractive offer in exchange for their contact information (typically an email address) so that you can begin to build trust and nurture the relationship with the audience.
Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu)
What is the Bottom of the Funnel?
The bottom of the funnel is where you convince your qualified leads to purchase your product or service.
This is done after your audience has been nurtured and is ready to be converted into happy customers.
By now, your Brand is well-known by your potential customer. You’ve given them free content that is relative to their needs.
Here is where you offer them your relevant product or service the solves their problem and turns them into a paying customer.
Be warned! This is the tricky part. Converting leads into customers requires moving your audience from receiving free content to actually giving you their information and hard-earned cash!
You want to personalize the transaction as much as possible to increase your odds of closing the sale. We’ll discuss this further below.
Why Is It Important To Create A Content Marketing Funnel?
Content marketing produces 3x more leads per dollar spent when compared to paid search, according to a study done by Kapost.
What makes this possible? Content marketing (i.e. website blogs) is the best possible thing that you can do for SEO.
You can gain more leads, more backlinks, more indexed pages, and more raw traffic via Content Marketing.
It’s like leaving thousands of little breadcrumbs all over the internet to guide potential customers right to you.
Content marketing rakes in conversion rates 6x higher than other methods.
In a nutshell:
- You don’t have to spend a ton of money on Paid Ads
- You can increase your Organic Search traffic (this is free traffic)
- You can increase your Brand Awareness
- Increased conversion rates
These are great reasons to create a Content Marketing Funnel!
You should begin with the Audience In Mind
A successful Content Marketing Funnel begins with identifying your audience.
You should have an understanding of how your audience searches and consumes the content that you are planning to create. Cater to their needs.
The more you know about your audience, the better your funnel will perform.
- How can your business solve the problems that your audience is facing?
- What questions can your product or service answer?
- How will your product or service make your audience’s lives easier?
Why is this an important step?
Say your customer is a 40-something stay-at-home mother of four. Her needs and problems are probably going to differ from a 20-something single male living with his parents.
Knowing your audience’s day-to-day challenges gives you the ability to answer the question, “how can our content solve one of their challenges?"
Buffer offers us an example:
Here, Buffer shows us a product for a social media manager that is struggling with end-of-year content planning.
The Buffer team created a Q4 Content Calendar for businesses. The calendar identifies important Q4 dates to keep in mind.
The calendar is a simple but incredibly powerful tool that helps the social media manager finish their Q4 Content Marketing Plan.
It’s time to create the actual content that will solve your audience’s problem now that you have identified what they are searching for.
Successful Content Creation
Many things should be considered if you would like to create successful content. Read the following carefully!
Here are the steps:
- Content Research
- Find influencers
- Write the Content
Learn from the success of others by researching popular content
You need to know what types of content that your audience is searching for.
BuzzSumo has a great tool that allows you to find trending topics. Check out their Content Analyzer during your Content Research phase.
You can use the Content Analyzer to show you the results that have the most engagement in your topic.
These results allow you to view Social Engagement which indicates audience interest.
Climb aboard the trend wave by creating similar content that your audience can consume.
You could also try to create content that is different but yet related to the trending topics.
Research is crucial in creating content that will actually be of interest to your target audience. By knowing what they’re already consuming, you eliminate a lot of the guesswork in creating new content.
Find the Top Influencers related to your topic
See what the top influencers are saying about your topic.
Again, head on over to BuzzSumo and use the Influencers Tab to search for your topic.
Different search results will be shown in the two available tabs.
The most popular influencers for your topic are shown in under the Search Bios Tab. Export this list if you would like to follow or check out the listed influencers.
There is also a Search Content Shared tab that will list the most popular people that have recently shared content about your searched topic.
This will be the main tab to use when searching for influencers since you want to create content that interests these people.
You can then create content that these people would most likely share since you know their interests.
If your content is shared by these influencers, you will get massive exposure to people that may have never even heard of your brand. This is what you want to happen!
Creating the actual content
It’s now time to write the type of content that your audience will be interested in.
1. Top of the Funnel
Attention is the goal here. Focus on reaching a wide range of people to find who may be interested in your content.
Below are a few of the best types of content to create for ToFu:
- Curated Content – This is the easiest type of content to “create." The idea is basically sharing posts on your social media accounts. You can add a blurb about the content to share your thoughts. Be careful not to make it spammy. Only share high-value content to your audience.
- Blog Posts – when done right, these are incredibly powerful for SEO. You can display your expertise using a well-written blog post that can be shared to your audience. Be sure to make your blog post sharable by anybody to scale your reach effectively.
- Infographics – these are visually engaging graphics created to convey a certain topic. Statistics and data are often shown in infographics in an easy to interpret manner. A popular sub-category of an infographic is a listographic. A listographic is a list that is set up in an infographic format. There are also instructographics which is basically a how-to article shown in an infographic format. Instructographics are incredibly popular on Pinterest.
- Videos – When done correctly, videos are a huge boost in SEO and can dramatically increase conversion rates.
- Podcasts – Podcasts are the modern version of radio. Podcasts can be re-purposed as a keyword targeted blog post when transcribed.
There are other content types that work well at ToFu. The ones listed above are best for when you are just getting started.
2. Middle of the Funnel
Educational resources are the best types of content for MoFu. Be sure to make them highly shareable so that other people are directed to MoFu. i.e. Free Traffic!
MoFu should be laser-focused on being useful and practical to solving your audiences problems. Your audience should get a “quick win" from the content here.
This is where you should capture your audience’s email address. We need to nurture the relationship from this point forward to get them to the Bottom of the Funnel.
The content here should only be given to those that give you their contact information. This is also known as a Lead Magnet.
Your audience gets an amzing resource and you get their contact information. It’s a win-win scenario.
Important Note: The EU began enforcing GDPR regulations. Make sure to read up on the best practices for email lead capture.
Here are a few popular content types for this part of the funnel:
- White papers – an academic report showing statistical data in a fact-sheet style arrangement. These help to convince your audience that your product or service is just what they are looking for.
- Case Studies – statistical, data-driven content that is gathered at the end of a project.
- Free guides or ebooks – these help your audience solve a problem by using “how-to" instructions. Your product or service should be described here to help your audience achieve a solution to their problem.
- Worksheets – a great compliment to the how-to article. Your reader can apply what they have learned.
Think “usability" when coming up with a lead magnet. Will it provide tangible value? A lead magnet should be something that can be used right away.
3. Bottom of the Funnel
This is where you should be very personal. Content here should bridge the gap between your free lead magnet and your paid products and services.
Email autoresponders should be used for delivering this type of content. The contentt can be delivered automatically to the email addresses you collected in the MoFu.
You should connect the dots gradually using email sequences. Lead your audience from their original problem to your services or products that solve that problem.
Our friends over at Moz have created an excellent guide on how to create winning CTAs. Be sure to bookmark the article to help you refine your calls to action in your email sequences.
You could also use some “interactive" content from MoFu here. Just try to personalize the experience for your audience.
Demos or Trials are the most popular types of offers for this. Your audience will appreciate being able to give your product or service a “test run."
Other types of content that can be used here are:
- Satisfied customer testimonials – A series of emails can be created demonstrating successful customer journeys using your services. Make sure to craft the stories showing the customer progress from their initial problem to their eventual success of solving that problem by using your product.
- Webinars and advanced classes – These take time but offering an advanced class to your audience who are fimiliar with what you do can significantly increase conversions.
- Discount codes – provide your audience with discount codes that can only be used for a “limited time" only offer. This triggers urgency and the fear of missing out and leads to increased revenue.
Once you have led your audience through the Content Marketing Funnel and eventually converted them into a customer, don’t forget to follow-through. Many businesses leave money on the table after they have acquired a customer!
You converted your audience to an actual customer. Now what?
The customer journey doesn’t end at the sale.
Now is the time to restart your funnel! Let your existing customers help you to keep the cycle flowing.
Your content marketing funnel is also a great retention and advocacy tool!
You’ve done a great job and your customer will most likely want to keep consuming your free content.
They will also most likely want to share your content with their friends, family, and coworkers.
Here are some ways to help your customers to help you:
- Everyone likes discounts. Give your existing customers discounts for referring friends.
- Provide trial codes to your customers to give to their friends.
- Give exclusive but shareable content to your customers.
- Don’t forget customer service! Make sure that your customer’s needs are met which shows that you care about them.
- Survey your customers. Ask them what you could do better. Ask them what products they would like. Get them involved with your business.
There are posts all over social media about customer service…both good and bad. Make sure that when someone mentions your customer service, it is from a good experience. This adds fuel for the top of your funnel!
Creating Content Marketing Funnels is not an easy task. It will take a lot of hard work and discipline to make sure that it is done right.
Make sure to focus on your audience’s wants and needs rather than just throwing random content out there. In the end, you will create a successful system which will be highly beneficial to your business.